BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
TAHLEQUAH – During its first nine months, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Housing Committee has become an important bridge between the housing needs of tribal members and the UKB Housing Department.
“Our (housing) applicants, it was just so hard for them to get assistance the way it's fixed, the policies,” said Committee Member Frankie Still. “A group of us decided to get together and tweaked a bunch of little policies so it was easier for our tribal members.”
The committee, created on October 14, 2017, includes Tribal Councilors Still, Willie Christie, Teresa Webber and Adalene Smith, as well as UKB Treasurer Ella Mae Worley and UKB Assistant Chief Jamie Thompson.
Their committee helps the Housing Department review housing applications and identify who is most in need.
“We go over our applications that we've received (with Housing) and we go over the policies and have our attorney here whenever there's something that may come up that she needs to address,” said Still. “You want to do stuff by the book when you're dealing with HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) money.”
Since its inception, the committee has helped raised the College Rental Assistance Program funding from $1,200 per semester to $2,000, and assisted with creating the Elder Home Project.
“We just had so many people out here that need the help, especially the elders,” said Still. “There were sometimes that people would come in and need a little bit of something to get the assistance and they couldn't get it.”
Still said he also became involved because information on housing programs was not being given to members.
“This stuff was not being brought out to the people, so now we're getting it out there to the people and they're figuring out what can be done and what we're doing,” he said. “If there's things still missing then I'll go back to those people as a council person and try to get this stuff gathered up. That's what was missing here, people who were willing to work.”
Still said he was “proud” of the committee.
“They truly have the best interest of the people in mind. We do this in our time. We don't get paid for what we do. We want to see people get the help that they need.”